With one month remaining in its season, Arcadia University’s Baseball team was in the heat of chasing the program’s first post-season berth in three seasons. In addition, the student-athletes were preparing for their final month of academic work. Yet they took to Erny Field on Sunday, April 1, with a different intent: to share their love of the game with children from the ENON Tabernacle Baptist Church Youth Baseball program.
The team hosted a three-hour clinic with ENON participants, who ranged in age from seven to 14. The young players interacted with Arcadia’s Division III student-athletes and got to experience a college-level practice session, while Arcadia’s players were able to give back to their local community and see how providing instruction can benefit their growth as players.
“We took the kids through our traditional practice,” noted head coach Ken Spangenberg ’08. “We put them through our warm-up series including plyometrics and demonstrated to them our throwing progression. From there, our guys had the kids break up into positions in order for us to demonstrate our foundation drills at each position, which also included defense reps. It was great to see the wide-eyed kids having fun and learning new skills.” The clinic ended with the young players taking batting practice in the cage as a warm-up to the culminating activity of the afternoon—the homerun derby.
Rising junior catcher Brian Innella took the lead in coordinating the first annual clinic with ENON and was thanked by Redell Crabbe, a representative of the ENON youth program, for his ability to turn his idea into a reality. “We thought it was a great effort by Arcadia’s coaches and players, and our kids really responded to the instruction and had fun,” said Crabbe. “We hope to make this an annual event and open it up to more children next spring.”
Coach Spangenberg, true to his philosophy as teacher of the game, saw the benefit of his players’ involvement. “In order to truly master a skill, it is critical that you can teach it as well as perform it, so by instructing others about how to play a specific position or approach to their hitting style, the guys were actually helping themselves become … [more] well-rounded and knowledgeable players.”
The clinic took place a day after the Knights’ first-ever Commonwealth Conference series sweep over Lebanon Valley and two days before the Knights knocked off Delaware Valley, 6-5, in an extra-inning game. The team went on to win seven more games in the month of April and, despite missing out on a playoff spot on the last day of the regular-season, finished 2012 with its best season in four years (18-21 overall, 7-11 Commonwealth).